OTTAWA -- Going out with a bang wasn't good enough for the Rolling Stones, who delivered an even bigger bang in front of 43,000 fans last night at Lansdowne Stadium.
After months of anticipation, the greatest rock 'n' roll band in the world surpassed all the hype to deliver one of the greatest concerts the city has ever seen.
Everywhere you went before the concert, young and old proudly wore their Rolling Stones merchandise, a sea of lips and tongues, a few going so far as to model themselves after the Glimmer Twins -- Mick Jagger and Keith Richards.
You could feel the electricity everywhere in and outside the stadium as thousands who couldn't get tickets crowded Bank St. just to be able to say they were there.
Running a half hour late only made their wait more delicious. When the house lights finally dimmed an hour after Our Lady Peace cleared the stage, a deafening cheer accompanied the animated video and fireworks that set the fans back on their heels.
Jagger, dressed head-to-toe in blue satin, might have looked older than he did when he last played the city 40 years ago, but his energy level was through the roof.
"We haven't been here much, if that isn't an understatement," joked Jagger. "We've added a few more songs since then."
The Stones stuck close to the set they premiered last week in Boston, opening with Start Me Up, You've Got Me Rocking and Shattered.
Jagger seemed to be particularly pumped for the show, using every inch of the ample floor space to strut and stomp like an angry ballet dancer while working the catwalk to get close to his fans on Tumblin' Dice.
While Jagger posed and preened, Richards and Ronnie Woods settled into a jam with a trio of soulful singers and a four-piece brass section. It was as dirty and sexy as I've ever heard the band.
Halfway through the two-hour show, it was beginning to look like the band would play all night, settling into a funky groove with Rough Justice, and the traditional-sounding blues tune Back of My Hand, featuring Jagger playing slide guitar
The concert's biggest surprise was the hydraulically-fitted stage, which lifted and then extended halfway down the tarpaulined field while the band played Beast of Burden, She's So Cold and Missed You.
In the final few moments, the Stones paid tribute to their blues hero, Ray Charles, with Night Time Is The Right Time before playing their own classics, Satisfaction, Sympathy For the Devil, Jumping Jack Flash and their encore, I Know It's Only Rock n' Roll (But I Like It).
Thanks to a spectacular sound system, the old classics sounded like brand new tunes, and Jagger soon had the crowd on its feet singing along.
As good as the Stones sounded, the Bigger Bang gig proved to be a massive rock 'n' roll experience, a spectacle easily surpassinging any other concert.
From the elaborate staging, which resembled a hi-tech parking garage lined with three levels of balconies where standing-room-only fans looked down on the band, the entire structure looked as if it would take off like a brilliant space ship.
It was an unforgettable show, proving once again that though they might not cut as many hit records as they used to, the Rolling Stones are still one of the best live acts in rock.